Archive of ‘Inspiration’ category

Student life in Vienna

When I came to Vienna, I had no intention to study. But situations in life change all the time and so do I. I researched about the enrollment system and for the last two years I’ve been a happy student again, this time in the University of Vienna. When I decided to study, I needed some advice from people who was already studying in the university, but I knew nobody. This experience made me think that it might be useful to dedicate a post entry on this blog and write about what does “studying in the University of Vienna” mean, and the best way to do it is by asking students to tell us a bit of their experience.

Darina from Russia

darinaWhat do you study?
I’m studying International Development and Transcultural Communication with language combination German/English/French.

What do you like most about your experience of being student at the University of Vienna?
Being student in the University of Vienna is an unforgettable experience indeed. What a feeling, when you go by the underground in the early morning, and you see a lot of students, who turn over the pages of their notes, carry huge maps with printouts or simply tap messages in their iphones. You get off on the Schottentor station and suddenly see Votiv Kirche. You breathe the morning air (which sometimes smells like sea), take a drink of hot coffee from a paper cup (it can be Starbucks, Kafffeküche, McDonalds or something like that) and you feel really “studently” happy, vastly happy, as in the song of Pharrell Williams.

How would you describe your student life in Vienna?
For me Vienna is ideal for studying. It is not in a hurry, it is fascinating, very cultural, and comfortable, there are a lot of parks, avenues, streets and lawns, where you can sit down and study. But if you really want to study and to finish your degree fast (not in 12 semesters or 12 years – as it also happens), you should forget about entertainments, relaxations, night clubs, parties – for a certain time . You should decide: “I DO study, I’m quite serious with that, I do my hometasks, I attend lectures, I listen to profs carefully”, because it isn’t a kindergarden anymore. At the University of Vienna nobody controls you, I mean, it is only your business, whether you have time to do this task in time or not. You should be a strictly disciplined person and develop your time management skills to create an optimal time-table to be able to cope with all the things you have. Of course, teaching staff in the Uni is very friendly and helpful, you can communicate with them on equal terms, and I think always highly about them.

Do you work and if yes, then how do you manage to combine work and studies at the same time?
A question about combining work and studies at the same time is really a moot point. In any case, short internships during summer breaks do good, especially if you gain some experience and skills which have much in common with the subject you study.

What do you believe about the STEOP exams?
You can blame me, but I think that STEOP exams are a good practice. During the first six months you attend the lectures you have to and you can decide for yourself if you are ready to put your heart and soul into a particular field of study. For the “International Development” faculty the STEOPs were not very difficult, it was only a question of time and memory capacity 🙂

What about the leisure time? Does Vienna offer a variety of leisure activities for students?
And .. if you suddenly have free time! (During my first two years at the University I did not have any 😀 ) Yes, there are plenty of places you can go to. To begin with, to the Staatsoper – it is a wonderful, incredible, divine opera house with the perfect stagings, and you can buy a standing-place-ticket for 3 or 4 euros only, quite cheap. Then, Museumsquartier – a nice place for a summer day with cafes, museums and its unique seating area. If you are not a opera/museum-fan, you can choose one of a indie-concerts or watch a musical, attend a dancing-class (because if you live in Vienna, you should know how to dance a waltz at the least!!), go with a boat to Bratislava, with a train to Prague, Paris, Venice, .. you got a whole world in your hands! Or spend some free time in a coffee house and enjoy a cup of coffee: espresso (kleiner Schwarzer), melange, kapuziner, fiaker, latte, with hot milk, or foamed milk, with cinnamon, with whipped cream, with liqueur, or dear, there are so many types of coffee in Vienna, panic! As you see, the possibilities in Vienna are immense. I hope you will study in Vienna and it will fascinate you strongly as it has fascinated me! xx

Penelope from Greece

the viennese girlWhat do you study? And why did you choose this specific study?
I am currently doing my PhD in Classics. This means I am in love with ancient Greek literature and could not imagine myself studying anything else. I have often flirted with linguistics as well, but I am really content to be able to combine both of these intriguing disciplines in my dissertation…

Would you recommend the university of Vienna to a foreigner and why?
Well, choosing a University to study at any level may be a hard procedure. To make the best decision one must take into account WHAT exactly he/she wants to do and if the courses offered at this specific University matches with his/her own specific INTERESTS. It would also be interesting to check whether the professors teaching these courses may be considered as experts in their field, let’s say.

What do you like most about your experience of being student at the University of Vienna?
Hm… Shall I restrain my answer in the frame of the University? Then I should mention the simplicity which characterises a perfect organisation of the bureaucracy involved! Furthermore, considering my fields of study, I really enjoy the way that classical disciplines are re-visited in a modern way, following the trends of research. I guess this has to do with the professors themselves and might be not a general rule. The general feeling is anyway positive, nevertheless a bit conservative at times, which I also respect, I must admit…!

Is Vienna affordable for students?
I feel that, yes, Vienna is a place where a student may live comfortably without having to spend lots of money. This is a personal matter in any case, so I am afraid I cannot be absolutely realistic.

How would you describe your student life in Vienna?
I first came to Vienna as a postgraduate Erasmus student and then stayed here for my PhD. Meanwhile I am working and I prefer studying on my own or enjoying leisure activities in a rather quiet way. However the general feeling is again that Vienna offers a variety of choices pour tout les goûts!

Do you work and if yes, then how do you manage to combine work and studies at the same time?
I am currently working more or less in my field. That is very good and I feel lucky! However it is still hard for one to be committed to two different environments, having to split your energy and focus on different targets. Working while studying might prove to be quite a trap! My advice would be to be careful with your choices and save a rational time planning!

What do you believe about the STEOP exams?
I am definitely FOR the STEOP exams! This helps the student realise a few important things considering the field of study he/she has chosen. I would even say it is highly demanded as a filter to scan students that might not be destined or gifted or they do not fulfil the requirements to even start – not to mention complete – this very study they want to take up.

Is there anything else that you would like to share with us? Something happy or strange that happened to you in relation to the student life in Vienna?
I shall always remember Vienna like a bittersweet symphony… This is definitely not the place where I belong, but thanks to the guy I used to belong to for the first three years I stayed here my days became even more interesting, enjoying pretty little insider secrets. I bear in heart another side of Vienna and there I belong for sure…

Camila from Brazil 

camila aftiiWhat do you study and why you chose this study? Where are you from?
I am currently in the 5th semester of International Development Bachelor of Arts. I basically chose these studies (after trying 4 (!!!) different bachelors and dropping out from all of them) because my friends were attending International Development classes. I surely do not regret my choice! I’m originally from São Paulo, Brazil.

Would you recommend the university of Vienna to a foreigner and why?
I would recommend the Uni Wien to a foreigner who has a good grasp on the german language. Of course you can try to learn the language from scratch by living and practicing in Vienna (like I did) but this process makes everything much harder on yourself. If you speak German as a second language or learn it as a hobby, and would like to live & study abroad, then Vienna is a great option! The Uni here offers an open schedule so you have time to attend other interesting classes from several different institutes, plus you’d have the time to have other activities and hobbies on the side.

Is Vienna affordable for students?
I would say so. There’s a bunch of really cool student options regarding fun activities, food and such. Everyone knows about the “pay as you wish” pakistani restaurant. I love that place!

How would you describe your student life in Vienna?
Pretty tough at times but fun as well! Definitely having a great experience that I’ll never ever forget! I met people from all over the world here sharing similar troubles, difficulties, happy moments… living in Vienna made me grow into who I am today.

Do you live in a shared apartment or in a student housing (studentenwohnheim) and how can a student find accommodation in Vienna, when he/she doesn’t come from Vienna?
I have lived in a Studentenwohnheim for a while and now I’m currently living in a WG (shared apartment). It’s super easy to find accommodation in Vienna, really. There’s plenty of websites with room vacancies ads and the institutions that regulate the student housings connected to the universities have pretty straight forward requirements. Nothing to be afraid about!

Do you work and if yes, then how do you manage to combine work and studies at the same time?
I have two jobs at the time! It’s do-able, I guess, but pretty stressful. Life was much smoother when I only studied although it feels really great to have your own savings on the side to do some traveling!

Are you satisfied with the whole organization of the university or do you believe they should improve something?
The organization of the University of Vienna is the only thing I can say I’m unhappy about. It can get pretty messy and disorganized at times. Students have to figure out their way mostly by themselves, differing a lot from American Colleges and Unis for example, where you get counseling and assistance to each and every step. But again, Uni Wien is a public institution… 😉

What do you believe about the STEOP exams?
I guess they are somehow necessary since so many students apply to some specific majors, but they surely are a pain!

What about the leisure time? Does Vienna offer a variety of leisure activities for students?
Vienna offers a ton of free activities for students, mainly in Spring and Summer. They have a handful of good outdoor movie festivals, small cultural institutions that offer free workshops and movie discussions and so on. We have a really great variety of parks and outdoor places to hang out here, which makes it super easy to have fun if you have some friends to come along!

Thank you girls for your kind contribution to this blog. You make it more beautiful.

Birthday girl

birthday girlMarch 20th, my birthday and the March equinox, which marks the beginning of spring. Such a happy feeling that those two things occur on the same day. Today is a busy day (which day isn’t it?) but together with a cup of orange juice, I find some time to write a few words on this blog. I have to hurry up because I have a Spanish course to attend, then I am going to meet six beautiful students of mine and later on, I am going to meet a special person and we plan to go to the theater, then to a classy dinner!

If I could ask something from you as a birthday wish, it is to know a little bit more about you…..so please feel free to write me whatever you like!

Happy birthday to everyone who celebrates their birthday TODAY!

My interview and blog on InterNations

Over a cup of coffee and a Tarte aux citron, I asked my friends today if they knew about InterNations and I was really surprised of finding out that they had never heard of it before. So I promised them I will write about it and I advised them to join the expat community online.

Under the motto “Connecting global minds” InterNations organizes various events and brings expats together. For example, you may be currently living in Amsterdam and are planning to move to Stockholm. You have already organised work and home but what about your social life? I don’t think you plan to stay alone in your new city! You can join InterNations and meet other interesting people, find interesting topics to discuss with other expats, useful information and city guides, and take part in the groups and events they organize. How can you do that? Just make your own account or give me your email and I can send you an invitation.

I have been a member of InterNations since 04/2011 and I am very happy that they now feature my blog in the recommended expat blog Vienna section, where you can also find an interview about my experience of living in Vienna here.

A big thanks to Valentina from Munich for the interview and nice chat.

Life abroad

life abroadWell, this post is very different from the previous ones but I wanted to share with you my thoughts and the things I’ve learned or realized through my crazy experiences of living abroad.  So, here we go:

1.    Human relationships are nowadays incredibly fragile. If you say a word that you shouldn’t say, the relationship you’ve fostered can vanish instantly. Relationships can break like a vase that you throw against a wall, into a thousand little pieces. Everything will be gone in the blink of an eye. One word, one phrase, or one not so pleasant moment is enough to destroy what had been built for a long time. It is hard for me to realize that people tend to judge other people with ease, rather than trying to understand and solve hard situations or problems. It easier and more comfortable nowadays to throw away something and replace it, than to take the time and the effort to repair it.

2.    No place in the world is like home. Before I moved to Austria, my father knew that I wanted to live abroad and he was even positive and excited with my ideas. But he warned me!! And he said that I will never find a home that will be as good like my home. When he said that, I honestly confess now that I didn’t get what he was talking about. Later on and after having lived abroad for three years, I now understand what he once said and think a lot about his words and how right he was. So, expanding yourself abroad is attractive but experiences prove that no place is like home.

3.    I learnt how to manage difficult situations and above all how to manage difficult people. When you go abroad, in order to start creating network of friends and establishing relationships with other people, all you have to do is to be open, friendly, and nice. I assume that that’s the way it works or that’s the way it should work. But even if you are open, friendly, and nice, it doesn’t mean automatically that others are as well. I often catch myself to be too naive and too good natured and still get in trouble or cause misunderstandings without even wanting them. So, I suppose if you want to get along smoothly without having many problems caused by others, choose your friends carefully and keep the ones that inspire you, motivate, help and care for you. True friends really are worth their weight in gold.

4.    Family is the most important thing we have. Friends are also important in one’s life and we need them but throughout these past three years in Vienna, I realised how many people come and go, but family still stays. To make it clearer, even if you choose to live abroad, think about where all the expats are going for Christmas, where and with whom do they choose to spend these special holidays. Of course, they go back home.

5.    This paragraph is related to number 2. Life in a shared apartment with people that you don’t know can turn up being very unpleasant. People, especially 18-30 years olds, share flats because of money. They think “I cannot afford a flat on my own so as a second choice I will share the flat with others, and also the rent and bills.” And of course, it is comfortable for your wallet but I don’t know how comfortable is it for your inner serenity and for your mental well being. The starting point is wrong: you are doing something for money, and not for what you want. So, in my opinion, if you want to save yourself troubles, stress, and wasted energy, ask your friends if they want to share a flat with you or try to find a better solution. I don’t want to be pessimistic and negative, and it can even work out very well for you, but after all that I experienced, I am amazed at how this system still works and at the same time I am happy I managed to survive after all that I have gone through and I am happy to be where I am now!!!

Do you have similar experiences?

“I think the girl who is able to earn her own living and pay her own way should be as happy as anybody on earth. The sense of independence and security is very sweet.” -Susan B. Anthony

Home sweet Home

home sweet home
Home sweet Home
 

Finding a nice home in Vienna was a no easy journey. After many bruises from moving boxes and coffee tables, I found this one that matches me the best, this one that I finally can call home sweet home!

A home that provides me with positive energy and inspiration and encourages me to make beautiful and creative things. The deco was made by a special lady. I don’t want to reveal more than this online; two of the photos gives you a small peek into my personal refuge.

“Home is the nicest word there is.” -Laura Ingalls Wilder

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